The clinical syndrome that results from a disorder in the spinal cord that disrupts or interrupts the normal transmission of the neural signals is called a myelopathy. Anything that interrupts the normal flow of neural impulses through the spinal cord may cause a clinical myelopathy. Some of the causes are trauma, inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, viral processes, intervertebral disc herniation, tumor, and spondylosis.


The symptoms of cervical myelopathy depend on the level(s) of the spinal cord that are involved and the pattern of the involvement. Symptoms may include: numbness of the hands, clumsiness of the hands, arm weakness, hand weakness, leg stiffness (“walking like a robot”), loss of balance, and urinary urgency. Neck pain may also be present but is frequently not a significant complaint.

The appearance of symptoms and their progression also differs from person to person. The rate of progression of an individual’s myelopathy symptoms may change over time, with periods of relatively rapid change interspersed with periods of stability or minimal progression.


The diagnosis of myelopathy can be difficult because of the multiple potential causes of similar symptoms and the variable presentations. It is usually made based on the patient’s history and examination and radiographic studies that confirm critical cervical stenosis with compression of the spinal cord. Computed tomography (myelo-CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to obtained high-resolution images of the cervical spinal canal and the spinal cord.


The key to the treatment of myelopathy is to remove the pressure from the spinal cord. A minimally invasive surgery is performed to prevent the progression of symptoms; however, it must be noted that clinical improvement may or may not occur. The exact procedure performed is based partly on the location of the stenosis and the overall alignment of the cervical spine, but many factors are considered in the decision. Burak Ozgur, MD will discuss your prognosis prior to making a decision to have surgery.

Burak Ozgur, MD treats myelopathy with minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedures that are designed to help you find relief from pain. Learn more about our minimally invasive procedures or request an appointment for consultation by calling (949) 383-4190 or toll free 888-64-SPINE or Contact Us ➲.